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Berlin Brief

16 New Books for Creative Leaders to Begin 2016

February 11, 2016

The opening months of 2016 will see a shelf of new books containing research, insights and proven experience that promise to support better creative leadership.  The topics range widely from learning, disruption and uncertainty to the execution of strategy and the creativity, non-conformity, and gender equality in organizations. All the following titles are scheduled to be available by the beginning of May.

Ellen R. Auster and Lisa Hillenbrand, Stragility: Excelling at Strategic Changes (University of Toronto Press, March 31)

A frequent challenge for creative leaders is to reconcile the drive to formulate and implement a strategic plan with the commitment to remain agile and flexible.  A York University Strategic Management professor and a former P&G global marketing head have authored a vital and practical guide to taking action, adapting systems, and empowering people.  

Iris Bohnet, What Works: Gender Equality by Design (Belknap Press, March 8)

Despite the increasing priority in business and society to achieve greater gender equality, unconscious and institutional bias continues to stifle much meaningful change.  A Harvard behavioral economist moves beyond commonplace diversity training of individuals to offer a compelling new approach to improving lives and performance by de-biasing organizations.

David Burkus, Under New Management: How Leading Organizations Are Upending Business as Usual (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, March 15)

From banning email and putting customers second to taking sabbaticals and celebrating departures, the author of The Myths of Creativity and Oral Roberts University professor has produced a valuable guide for creative leaders.  The overarching call is to reinvent business management and the creative and knowledge-based ‘factory’ work of the twenty-first century.

Angela Duckworth, Grit: The Power and Passion of Perseverance (Scribner, May 3)

The University of Pennsylvania psychologist and MacArthur fellow, whose TED Talk has enjoyed millions of global views, shares insights drawn from her imaginative and original research on what really drives success.  More important than talent or luck, she argues it is a special mix of focused persistence and passion, or ‘grit’.

Sydney Finkelstein, Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent (Portfolio, February 9)

Based on more than 200 interviews, the director of the Tuck School’s Center for Leadership and author of Why Smart Executives Fail identifies how ‘superbosses’ from across industries recruit and inspire great teams and organizations.  The resulting book describes a host of practical if often counter-intuitive steps, like creating competitive cohorts and continuing to work with former employees, that build better performance and strengthen networks.   

Joshua Gans, The Disruption Dilemma (The MIT Press, March 25)

The Rotman School of Management professor and author of Parentonomics provides a much-needed and thoughtful take on one the central buzzwords of contemporary business.  Starting with Clayton Christensen’s defining formulation from the mid-1990s, Gans’ examination of company innovation and performance yields a new, two-part approach to ‘supply-side’ and ‘demand-side’ disruption that leaders can use to shape their strategies today.

Adam M. Grant, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World (Penguin, February 2)

The Wharton School professor and author of Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success has written an inspiring new book on empowering creativity and effecting meaningful change.  Accessing current research and using examples from across business, sports and entertainment, he offers a useful and accessible account of how to recognize and champion good ideas, manage fear and doubt, overcome groupthink, and actually improve the world.

Dietmar Harhoff and Karim R. Lakhani, Revolutionizing Innovation: Users, Communities, and Open Innovation (The MIT Press, February 5)

Amidst increasing excitement around the potential for user-driven communities and innovation, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Innovation and a Harvard Business School professor have gathered an impressive multidisciplinary collection of views on the field.  Empirical and theoretical, economic and legal, experimental and tool-based, the resulting contributions will prove invaluable for those seeking fuller understanding and cutting-edge practices of user-centered innovation.

Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey, An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization (Harvard Business Review Press, March 22)

Like ‘failure’ and ‘disruption’, ‘learning’ has become an overused term in leadership and business thinking.  Two Harvard Education School researchers describe a new model of ‘Deliberately Developmental Organizations’ that moves beyond selective HR programs to the crafting of an organizational cultures that deeply aligns individual growth and development with the central design of company work and life.

Paul Leinwand and Cesare R. Mainardi, Strategy that Works: Closing the Gap Between Strategy and Execution (Harvard Business Review Press, February 2)

How do the best companies in the world consistently and successfully connect strategy and execution?  A Strategy& partner and its CEO share the results of their worldwide research on the question, starting with the development and alignment of the right capabilities – and then offering five key principles for more focused and effective execution.

Alec Ross, The Industries of the Future (Simon & Schuster, February 2)

A leading innovation thinker, and senior Adviser for Innovation to former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, draws on his experiences visiting startups in 41 countries to identify the next big ideas in business, including robotics, cybersecurity, big data, genomics, and financial technologies. An essential read for creative leaders working to re-invent their own industries or help build new ones amidst sweeping global economic and social change.

Karissa Thacker, The Art of Authenticity (Wiley, March 7)

Even as authenticity has become an increasingly popular approach to better leadership, our understanding of the term has been skewed by oversimplifications, straw men and self-serving models.  Here, a management psychologist takes on such contemporary problems as ‘Popeye’s version of authenticity’, authenticity versus adaptability, and self versus ‘selves’ awareness. The result is a valuable guidebook for authenticity in the digital era.

Milan Todorovic, with Ali Bakir, Rethinking Strategy for Creative Industries: Innovation and Interaction (Routledge, March 16)

Drawing on extensive original research and analysis, the London Metropolitan University scholar has produced a helpful volume for leaders in rapidly-evolving creative industries.  With the priority of enabling better strategic decision-making for business success and sustained innovation, Todorovic offers emerging principles for business modeling, engagement with fluid and interactive contexts, and navigating the ‘strategy/creativity dialectic’.

Caroline Webb, How to Have a Good Day: Harness the Power of Behavioral Thinking to Transform your Working Life (Crown Business, February 2)

As work-life balance pervades discussions of the present and future of work, an economist and former McKinsey consultant draws on the best social-science research to offer tools and insights that allow you to fight burnout and re-make your everyday work life for the better.  Her seven practices, from setting the right priorities to sustaining our energy, promise to improve the quality of your career and life.

Eric Weiner, The Geography of Genius: A Search for the World’s Most Creative Places from Ancient Athens to Silicon Valley (Simon & Schuster, January 5)

The best-selling author of The Geography of Bliss returns with an informative guide to creative places that have thrived around the world and throughout history.  His lively tour of Vienna of 1900, Renaissance Florence, ancient Athens, Song Dynasty Hangzhou, Silicon Valley and more lends important weight and detail to discussions of the importance of culture and location to the efflorescence of creativity.

George S. Yip and Bruce McKern, China’s Next Strategic Advantage: From Imitation to Innovation (The MIT Press, April 29)

Two senior scholars from the China Europe International Business School and Stanford University provide a well-researched account of the transformation of innovation in China.  Using original case analyses, they identify ten key leadership and innovation capabilities that distinguish Chinese firms and also propose practical steps that multinationals can take to compete successfully in the dynamic Chinese knowledge and technology ecosystem.

David Slocum

Faculty Director
Berlin School of Creative Leadership
  +49 (0)30 39 88 96 99